NEW YORK -- Hours after being traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning in a blockbuster deadline-day move, Martin St. Louis made his anticipated debut with the New York Rangers. But, it was Tyler Bozak who stole the show Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Bozak scored his second of the game 1:51 into overtime and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Rangers 3-2 for a big second point in the heated race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ryan McDonagh and Dominic Moore scored shorthanded goals 79 seconds apart and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for the Rangers (33-26-4), who moved one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division but fell short in St. Louis' debut with his new club.
"Being somewhere for 14 years, it's just different," St. Louis said. "Just getting ready for the game, the little things you're used to, the locker room, the team, new teammates, you've gotta get acclimated. I like what they have here and I thought [Wednesday night] was a gutsy comeback. Unfortunately we didn't get an extra point, but I'm happy to come here and just break the ice I guess. I'm able to fly in and get that first game over with."
"The last 20 games here are gong to be crucial. It's pretty close between every team," Bozak said. "Unfortunately we gave them a point but it was huge to get two points."
After Kessel beat defensemen McDonagh and Dan Girardi to a loose puck behind the Rangers net, Bozak was left all alone in front on the game-winner. It was there that he took Kessel's pass and beat Lundqvist for his 14th.
"Phil just gave it to me and I shot it in," Bozak said. "He did all the work, made the play and gave it to me right in front in the slot. I just had to put it in."
Down 2-0 in the third and with Brad Richards whistled for tripping at 5:18, it looked as though the Maple Leafs fifth-ranked power play might put this one away. But the Rangers' penalty kill provided an unlikely comeback. McDonagh earned his 10th and gave the Rangers new life on a point shot that went off Dion Phaneuf's skate and past Bernier at 5:34.
Dominic Moore tied the game with another shorthanded goal 79 seconds later. Following a giveaway at the blue line by Kessel, Derek Stepan led a 2-on-1 rush alongside Moore, who took a pass and beat Bernier blocker side for his fifth at 6:53.
That game-tying sequence marked the second time in four games that Toronto has allowed two shorthanded goals on the same penalty. They are now tied with the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers for the League lead with 10 shorthanded goals allowed.
"That's just unacceptable from our power play group. We know that," Kadri said. "Obviously some of these goals that are going in, off our defensemen and off sticks, they're tough to keep up with. But we certainly do have to clean it up a little bit."
Following a scoreless first, the Rangers had one of their best scoring chances with James van Riemsdyk off for interference early in the second. After St. Louis fished the puck out of the right corner, McDonagh sent a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Richards. The center's hard shot slammed off the left post 58 seconds into the period before the puck rolled around the Toronto crease.
Toronto opened the scoring 23 seconds after van Riemsdyk's penalty expired when Bozak was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked by John Moore on a partial breakaway. The Toronto center made no mistake, freezing Lundqvist before beating him between the legs to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead on his 13th 1:44 into the second.
"I just kind of come in and take a look. I more so want to shoot than deke," Bozak said. "I just thought I saw an opening and went for it."
Leading 1-0 despite being outshot 7-1 in the opening 7:31 of the second, Toronto thought it had expanded its lead when Jake Gardiner's shot from the left wing was called a goal. But a video review indicated the puck actually bounced off both posts before skipping away from the Rangers net.
Lundqvist saved his best save for the end of the second when Joffrey Lupul found a rebound on the doorstep following a long shot from Nikolai Kulemin. He was foiled by Lundqvist in-close before going to the backhand, where he appeared to have the goaltender out of the play. But Lundqvist stretched his right pad out to make a remarkable stop with 1:20 remaining.
There was little Lundqvist could do when Kadri gave Toronto a 2-0 lead on his 16th goal two minutes into the third. The Maple Leafs center was left all alone at the side of the crease and had no trouble harnessing a rebound of a Kulemin shot and stuffing it home. That score snapped a six-game scoreless drought for Kadri.
That deficit took some of the shine off St. Louis' arrival.
St. Louis, acquired earlier in the day for captain Ryan Callahan, a first-round pick at the 2015 NHL Draft and a conditional second-round pick this year, was greeted with an ovation from the crowd when he took the ice for his first shift. Moments later, he took a pass from Richards in the slot and fired New York's first shot, a laser that was stopped by Bernier 57 seconds into the opening period.
St. Louis appeared to find quick chemistry with linemates Carl Hagelin and Richards, a teammate on the Tampa Bay team that won the Stanley Cup in 2004. The three accounted for five of New York's 12 shots in the first. St. Louis finished with three shots on goal in 20:11 of ice time.
"That line was unbelievable. They moved the puck so well," Lundqvist said. "Richie and Hags were flying out there. They looked really good."
But it was the team that didn't make changes on deadline day that came away with a win.
"That means they [management] have faith in us," Bernier said. "We just have to push all in the same direction. We feel we have a pretty good group in here."
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